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Don’t let Easter lose its bite

April 4, 2015

cross-easter-eggsLet’s play word association! If I said Easter what would you say? Eggs? Bunnies? Jesus? Spring? Chocolate? New life? Shocking? Love? Life-changing?

We can all too easily want to santitise Easter. But if we consider the events less shocking and less painful than they were then Easter becomes less wonderful and less life-changing than it is.

Take, for example, David Cameron’s recent summary of what Easter is ‘all about’:

Easter is all about remembering the importance of change, responsibility, and doing the right thing for the good of our children. And today, that message matters more than ever. – David Cameron, Premier Christianity Magazine

Yes, of course, taking responsibility and doing the right thing are good enough moral lessons, but what ‘Easter is all about’ is far more radical, far more earth-shattering and far more incredible than this.

The events of Easter show us that we are in a mess if we try to make it on our own – we need forgiveness, we need God and yet we can have hope.

Before I was a Christian I was aware that I was falling short of my own standards, I was letting myself down and I had a sense that I was letting God down too. I would try to do better, I would make resolutions to myself, but I would break them and I would feel condemned, again. I just couldn’t break that cycle and it was a lonely place to be.

For me, the events of Easter were life-changing.

Good Friday showed me that I was right in thinking that I fall short of God’s standard and that there are serious consequences to that.

But Good Friday also showed me that it doesn’t end there – God had stepped into this world to address this and to take the serious consequences that I deserved on himself:

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

– And can it be that I should gain – Charles Wesley

Easter day showed me that Jesus had won victory over death, there is forgiveness from God, wonderful hope and an amazing new life on offer, if I would accept it! But I had to be humble myself and accept that I needed it.

It is difficult to acknowledge that we need forgiveness. It can be difficult to humble oursevles and admit that to other people when we are wrong, let alone to the creator of the universe. At work I apologised for making a mistake and my colleague’s response was ‘oh, no, you don’t need to apologise’, when there was definitely reason for me to do so. Sometimes saying sorry is seen as a sign of weakness.

And before God, in my own strength, on my own merit, I was in a weak position.

But the amazing news of Easter is that I could not only be forgiven by God, but I could also become a child of God.

And we are raised with Him,
Death is dead, love has won
Christ has conquered;
And we shall reign with Him,
For He lives, Christ is risen from the dead!

See what a morning, Stuart Townend & Keith Getty

Coming to see the real significance of that first Easter was life-changing. The cycle of trying really hard to break patterns of behaviour in my own strength and failing was broken – God gave me forgiveness for all those times I’d messed up and He gave me strength to break those cycle.

Of course, there are times that I still mess up and I regularly come to God to ask for forgiveness, but through Jesus I know that I am forgiven and in His strength I am empowered to serve God. Easter brought, and continues to bring, an incredible hope and a deep joy that I had never known before.

The truths of Easter time can be uncomfortable to come to terms with, but, don’t allow uncomfortable feelings stop you acknowledging the incredible lengths and depths that Jesus went to in order to offer a totally undeserved olive branch from God to each one of us.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”

– 1 Peter 1 verse 3

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